General Question

tranquilsea's avatar

Help me find reliable sources on the prevalence of women lying about being raped?

Asked by tranquilsea (17238 points ) May 24th, 2011

On one newspaper forum I frequent there is a semi-trollish poster who likes to throw out the “fact” that women are giant rapists and that we routinely lie about being raped.

I have tried to find good sources to debunk this guy but all the statistics I am finding tend to be buried in articles where they don’t cite their sources. I am also being buried under links to sites where some people are big believers in this claptrap.

Does anyone here have easy access to any studies that have been done that speak to this?

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27 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Can you list some of the statistics you have? I might be able to find sources for them if I know the statistic.

tranquilsea's avatar

The one article I was able find in the sea of “women are liars” links was this one from Ms that cites one study that concluded that 2 to 8 percent of reported cases were untrue. I couldn’t find the study the article was referencing and I don’t think posting a link to Ms. would help my cause.

zenvelo's avatar

There are counter arguments with estimates of the under-reporting of rape incidents, I remember seeing from official crime statistic studies. But I don’t know much more to point you towards a cite-able source.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@tranquilsea Ok, here it says “According to a recent study by the American Prosecutors Research Institute, false rape allegations account for two to eight percent of all reported rapes.” It goes on to say that “In the past, errors in police coding procedures have often been a reason for high claims of false reports; many reports categorized as “false” actually should be recorded as “unsubstantiated” (which means that there is insufficient evidence to move forward with the case) or “baseless” (indicating that the claim is considered truthful, but the incident doesn’t meet specific elements of the crime). Some reasons for incorrectly categorizing reports include pressure on police officers to close out cases and make their departments appear successful, difficulties with agencies not tracking and differentiating between “false” and “baseless” reports, and a lack of supervision within and across law enforcement agencies regarding careful training and implementation of accurate coding procedures.” This is where we get figures like 40% of reports of rape are false.

So, the study by the American Prosecutors Research Institute can be found here, except that I kept clicking that link and it didn’t work. So if it doesn’t work you can also click here or PM me and I can get you a copy.

So, I think this is what Ms Magazine is talking about.

You can read more about false allegations and rape statistics

This article makes some… interesting claims, but at least says enough that you can follow them up.

tranquilsea's avatar

Thanks @MyNewtBoobs that link worked for me.

There is the very real problem of people not really understanding that just because a case has been found to be unsubstantiated that somehow that equates with false.

This prick hijacked a thread about three Nobel Laureates coming together to condemn rape as an act of war in war torn countries. The gall is outstanding.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@tranquilsea Yeah, it seems like in a lot of rape cases, if there isn’t proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s thought of as “false” and “untrue”, not “unproven in a court of law”. I doubt you’re going to convince a man who belongs to a Men’s Rights group with those statistics, but at least they’re sourced.

jonsblond's avatar

I found this. RAINN: The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

I noticed one source as being the US Department of Justice. Hope it helps.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jonsblond I actually don’t care for their website statistics, because they bury the sources and tend to paint the statistics as definite and uncontested. Love the rest of the work they do, though.

jonsblond's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs I found the sources easily accessible. Took two clicks for me.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jonsblond See, when I was looking for them, I wanted them to link to the actual report so I could read it for myself.

Brian1946's avatar

Although I’ve seen several references to an unfounded rape report rate of 2%-8%, I can’t find the actual reports either.

What was this misogynic troll’s point anyway- that the existence of unproven rape reports justifies rape, or that therefore rape never happens?

I give you my best wishes in finding those reports or trouncing that ahole in some other way.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jonsblond Isn’t editing awesome?

@Brian1946 My post includes the famed 2–8% report, should you care to read it. I’m finding it quite the good read (omg, I’m going to die alone…)

tranquilsea's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs I just read the report and it meticulously goes through all the known studies in the world (and provides the sources at the end). Thank you so very much for providing it.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@tranquilsea There’s another that it doesn’t mention – Linda Fairstein (headed the New York County District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit) said “There are about 4,000 reports of rape each year in Manhattan. Of these, about half simply did not happen.” She’s now disavowed the quote, saying “I don’t believe that and don’t know where they got it,” and that prosecutors “have to acknowledge that false accusations do happen, though they are less than 10% of reported rapes.” Unfortunately, people still often cite her original quote. (Source)

tranquilsea's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Of course. Why on god’s green earth would she declare such a thing without checking, double checking and then triple checking the statistic?

What I found very interesting in the cited reports was that the 2% to 8% largely held up no matter what country did the investigating.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Another frequently quoted statistic: In 1985, Charles McDowell studied 556 rape allegations. Of that total, 256 could not be conclusively verified as rape. That left 300 authenticated cases of which 220 were judged to be truthful and 80, or 27%, were judged as false. However (me talking now), there appear to be other reasons women claimed they made the rape up – like that he threatened them with a polygraph, and then followed through, so it’s really quite likely that many said “fine, I made it up, now leave me alone”. Or, there was a problem with the polygraph that indicated they lied – which can happen, seeing as how polygraphs measure how freaked out you are (heartbeats), not if you’re lying or not. James Sterba has disagreed with this, saying (finding reliable source…) that the figures should be 14% from McDowell’s study.(Source 1 source 2).
McDowell also came up with the McDowell checklist (formally called the Rape Allegation Checklist created by the US Pentagon and Charles McDowell) for finding out if she’s a witch, burn her!!! telling the truth. The checklist is criticized by many. Dorothy Mackey (former officer in the Air Force, assaulted/raped/sodomized repeatedly by different men at different times, filed a civil lawsuit in ‘94 against the men who attacked her) says “There is no way any rape victim can pass this test”, elaborating that it is not surprising that the McDowell checklist turns up a 60 percent incidence of “false” rape reports, compared to a national average of about eight percent from the FBI. The report I liked to above says about the checklist “there is absolutely no scientific basis to support such a procedure” (APRI, 2009, pg 11).

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Another fun, random “proof” that women lie!!!
Craig Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver who was known for his zealous prosecution of rapists during his 16-year career, says that false rape accusations occur with “scary frequency.” According to Mr. Silverman, a Denver sex-assault unit commander estimates that nearly half of all reported rape claims are false. Silverman states “During my time as a prosecutor who made case filing decisions, I was amazed to see all the false rape allegations that were made to the Denver Police Department. It was remarkable and surprising to me. You would have to see it to believe it. Any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes that there is. A command officer in the Denver Police sex assaults unit recently told me he placed the false rape numbers at approximately 45 percent.” (Source, again, third )

So, here’s where this gets fun. Because, I live in Denver. I’ve reported my rape to Denver. And when I inquired as to why the DA had dropped the charges of “sexual assault” and “harassment” (rape was never even charged), I was told that I “shouldn’t have worn a skirt”. I was not wearing a skirt, and most of the times he raped me were while I was in ratty jammies over a 2 month period. How they got “skirt”, I’ll never know. The DPD is known around here as being your stereotypical misogynistic, victim-blaming, we-don’t-prosecute-date-rape, brutality-first questions-later type of police department. In fact, our local public radio has a few pieces noting the DPD culture (my favorite part on that last one is when the Chief of ARVADA criticizes the DPD. Arvada, along with the rest of northern Denver, is sorta our stereotypical “white trash” part of town, complete with a general lack of progressive politics. Even they know the DPD has a problem).

Brian1946's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs

I’m so sorry that happened to you!

Has anyone brought this to the attention of the media, CO state law enforcement, or the FBI?

That sure as hell deserves a lot more coverage than the royal wedding, or self-serving crap like reports on “Dancing with the Stars”.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Brian1946 When you say “this”, what are you talking about?

Thanks, it was just as much fun as a girl could have!!~ But I’m with you, it really should be a bigger part of the national discussion. I think there actually is enough news and discussion to fill the 24 hour news networks with new things, they just decide to go in another direction. Because it’s really better when they do a profile on Mel Gibson.

Brian1946's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs

“When you say ‘this’, what are you talking about?”

Primarily the following:

“And when I inquired as to why the DA had dropped the charges of ‘sexual assault’ and ‘harassment’ (rape was never even charged), I was told that I ‘shouldn’t have worn a skirt’. I was not wearing a skirt, and most of the times he raped me were while I was in ratty jammies over a 2 month period.”

“The DPD is known around here as being your stereotypical misogynistic, victim-blaming, we-don’t-prosecute-date-rape….”

This reminds me of what happened to Tracy Thurman.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Brian1946 Ah – yes, this is a known issue that our local media (public radio, big newspaper, smaller free newspaper with a cult following, news channels) is well aware of, and there are/have been several investigations into the issue by larger authorities. There’s a big case going on that’s attracting a lot of attention to the brutality, as well as uncovering lots of other issues and bringing them to light. I quite like the idea that the DPD installed cameras around the city to help them catch crime, only to have the cameras show the officers being brutal and/or unethical more than it shows other crime.

tranquilsea's avatar

And “they” wonder why women don’t come forward….

linguaphile's avatar

I can’t find much information to back my words up here, but I have plenty of anecdotes from women I know who have been raped by their husbands or boyfriends. It’s hard enough to get justice for stranger rape, harder for acquaintance or date rape… and worse for marital rape, but articles I’ve read state that marital rape is the hardest to recover from. It’s easier to blame a stranger for depravity than a husband.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@linguaphile Marital rape is by far the hardest to prosecute, because even if there’s a law against it (which, there often isn’t…), there’s a view that by saying “I do”, the woman has said yes to sex with her husband at any point in time, no matter where.

linguaphile's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Yeah… I know. By my last research a while ago when I was volunteering for a crisis center, I think only 36 states had anything on the books that could-maybe-perhaps be used to prosecute marital rape. It would be really good project to do a large scale survey to ask married women whether they had been raped and under what circumstances. I bet that IS the most underreported rape because I know I wouldn’t report marital rape. I know what will happen at the cop’s station and in the media if I dared to…

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@linguaphile I would be interested in those results. But, even when you do private surveys, it’s not something people want to tell a stranger, and tons of rape survivors (of any type – stranger, non-stranger, marital, whatever) don’t think of it as “rape”. So getting accurate statistics is really, really hard.

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